Ever since the founding of Facebook in February of 2004 and Twitter in March of 2006, marketing has completely changed. Brands that once built campaigns to push market awareness through standardized marketing channels are now using social media to drive brand awareness and sales.
A prime example is the streetwear industry, which does a great job of using social media to control supply and demand. Instead of focusing on pushing a lot of low-priced items, these brands sell out a limited number of extremely marked-up items, which are fueled by social media hype and promotion. Combining social media trends and viral content allows them to leverage the hype and causes the demand to far exceed the quantity available.
I absolutely love this business model, which led to me connecting with Elie Neufeld, founder of DHTK. After identifying streetwear as a major trend in fashion, he launched the brand to merge a variety of major trends, creating one lifestyle brand. By leveraging trends in sports, fashion and other facets of youth lifestyles, DHTK demonstrates the end result of correctly executing on marketing trends. While talking to Neufeld about his growth strategy for DHTK, he shared his gameplan for viral growth, which is universal and can be applied to any industry.
1. Identify influential trends on social media.
Being active on social media gives you a glimpse at what’s popular in today’s society. In recent years, LeBron James has grown from being one of the top basketball players, into a worldwide cultural icon. Between appearances in blockbuster films, brand alignments and switching from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat and back again, James has become a larger than life on and off the court.
DHTK accurately identified sports as a cultural trend with a number of top performers -- LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry all push culture forward with their massive following and influence. Turning to social media can provide you with the insight to clearly identify the major trends that people are talking about.
2. Understand and identify the “cool factor.”
Many brands and entrepreneurs are able to spot major trends, but simply following them is not enough. You need to be able to understand what the “cool factor” is and leverage it to grow your brand. If you are able to associate your brand with a trending “cool factor,” you ride that wave, drawing attention to your company, which is fueled entirely by that trend.
For example, when Drake’s album If You Are Reading This It Is Too Late dropped, DHTK combined hip-hop trends, Drake’s growth, unique album design and typeface styles, which resulted in the release of the first It Is Too Late-inspired designs. It was a success because it combined the unique album design with the company's own brand style.
3. Build social media awareness.
Building brand awareness requires you to identify content that will work with the specific trend you are going after. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a brand in the fashion, music or sports industry -- each requires a unique style of content the consumer demographic wants to consume.
DHTK understands it fits into both sports and fashion, so it creates social media posts that work with both niches. Determine relevant trend niches, identify the prominent hashtags, and spend time determining what content styles your target audience enjoys interacting with. When you do this correctly, the outcome is more engagement and more potential customers discovering your brand.
4. Associate with influencers.
Influencer marketing is one of the most promising trends -- consumers want to be able to relate to the people they follow on social media. Associating your brand with influencers can result in consumers automatically relating with you, based solely on that relationship with someone they follow on social media. It’s important to make sure an influencer’s brand story aligns perfectly with your brand’s narrative.
You do not need to necessarily establish a paid relationship with influencers in order to associate with them. DHTK, which stands for Don’t Hate The King, has clear associations with the common phrase people recite when referencing LeBron James (also known as "King James" in basketball circles). This association combines the respect and power of LeBron with the power and aesthetic of the DHTK brand story without any formal partnership.
No matter what industry you are in, leveraging marketing trends can help you boost viral engagement and increase brand awareness and revenue. Pay attention to what people are talking about, then figure out how to do something interesting to get people talking about your brand.